Both the landlord and the tenant have a statutory specific set of responsibilities for keeping the rental unit in good condition and abiding with all laws regarding habitability, health, and safety. And, in Oregon the tenant has a limited ability to repair and deduct for minor repairs that affect habitability.
Of course, the landlord must keep the premises in a habitable condition at all times during the tenancy. The list of requirements for the landlord is substantial. Per O.R.S. § 90.320(1), the premises is considered uninhabitable if it substantially lacks any of the following:
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including windows and doors.
- Plumbing facilities which conform to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- A water supply approved under applicable law, which is under the control of tenant or landlord and is capable of producing hot and cold running water; furnished to appropriate fixtures; connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law, and; maintained so as to provide safe drinking water and to be in good working order to the extent that the system can be controlled by the landlord.
- Adequate heating facilities which conform to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- Electrical lighting with wiring and electrical equipment which conform to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- Buildings, grounds and appurtenances which are in every part safe for normal and reasonably foreseeable uses, clean, sanitary and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin.
- Except as otherwise provided by local ordinance, an adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish in clean condition and good repair;floors, walls, ceilings, stairways and railings maintained in good repair.
- Ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, maintained in good repair.
- Safety from fire hazards, including a working smoke alarm or smoke detector, with working batteries if solely battery-operated, provided only at the beginning of any new tenancy when tenant first takes possession of the premises;a carbon monoxide alarm, as may be required.
- Working locks for all entrance doors, and, unless contrary to applicable law, latches for all windows, and keys for such locks that require keys.
The tenant also has a list of responsibilities, so it’s best to review them with a tenant at move-in. Some of the more important responsibilities of the tenant pertain to safety. For example, a tenant must not remove or tamper with a smoke alarm, smoke detector, or carbon monoxide alarm, and must not remove, obstruct, or tamper with a sprinkler head used for fire suppression. Some other responsibilities of the tenant include the following:
- Use all parts of the premises in a reasonable manner considering the purposes for which they were designed and intended.
- Keep all areas of the premises under control of tenant as clean, sanitary and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin as conditions permit, and to the extent that the tenant is responsible for causing the problem. Tenant shall cooperate to a reasonable extent in assisting the landlord in any reasonable effort to remedy the problem.
- Dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste in a clean, safe, and legal manner. With regard to needles, syringes and other infectious waste, as defined in O.R.S. § 459.386, the tenant may not dispose of these items by placing them in garbage receptacles or in any other place or manner except as authorized by state and local governmental agencies.
- Keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
- Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators.
- Test at least once every six months and replace batteries as needed in any smoke alarm, smoke detector, or carbon monoxide alarm provided by the landlord and notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies.
- Behave, and require other persons on the premises with the consent of tenant to behave in a manner that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by neighbors.
Tenant’s Repair And Deduct Remedy
The tenant has a limited repair and deduct remedy for minor habitability defects which amount to $300 or less, and which the landlord has failed to repair after notice from the tenant. A complete description of the repair and deduct remedy available to tenants can be found in O.R.S. § 90.368.
Maintenance Responsibilities by Written Agreement
In Oregon the tenant can perform some repairs if the landlord and tenant define what can be done by the tenant in a written agreement. Per O.R.S. § 90.320(2), the landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant can perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks and minor remodeling only if:
- the agreement is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord;
- the agreement does not diminish the obligations of the landlord to other tenants in the property; and
- the terms and conditions of the agreement are clearly and fairly disclosed and adequate consideration for the agreement is specifically stated.